Aug
9
2009

The Trip to Vietnam

“Oh my goodness, let me tell you this story,” began the barber. His electric shaver sheared my sides as he started.

“I was flying back to Vietnam. I have not been there in years. Many, many years. It has been so long that I did not remember if I needed a Visa or not.”

He shook his head and frowned. “A friend told me I did not because I am Vietnamese. I believed him. So I packed up all of my bags and went to the airport. And guess what?”

“What?” I asked.

He took a step back from my hair and examined it. Narrowed his eyes. Then he looked at me. “When I got to the gate, they rejected me. They told me I needed a Visa. Can you believe it? I listened to my friend. I believed my friend. And here I was, at the airport, with all of my luggage, and I was told I could not get on the plane.”

“Daaaaaamn,” I murmured. “So what did you do?”

“I had to go all the way back home, get online, and look up information on how to get my Visa.” He snipped some hair and shook his head again. “Normally, it takes only ten dollars and a few weeks to get the Visa. But because I needed it right away, I had to pay… guess how much?”

“Fifty bucks?”

“No, more.”

“Hundred bucks?”

“Yes! Hundred bucks! A little more than a hundred bucks, actually. I had to call up my cousins in Vietnam to help rush it too. It was such an ordeal. I finally got it in an email, printed it out, and called the airline to book another flight. But then…”

His voice trailed off. I couldn’t tell if he was lost in the shears, or in the story. I decided not to push him and let him finish my sides.

“…and then,” he finally continued, “they told me all the flights were booked. I had to wait next week for the next available flight! I was so angry. I only had a week of vacation and already took a few days off. I could not wait a week!”

“Daaaaaamn,” I murmured again.

“So my brother, he travels a lot. He called up the airline and talked to them. Somehow, he got them to give me a flight in two days. I was so happy”

“Uh huh,” I concurred without trying to nod my head.

“I flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Then from San Francisco to Shanghai. Then from Shanghai to Vietnam. Oh, and while at Shanghai, there’s more to this story…”

“There’s more?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes! These things always happen to me. I don’t know why.” He rolled his eyes. “When I got to Shanghai, they told me I had to get my luggage from luggage claim and check it in again for my flight to Vietnam. I told them No, it should be transferred automatically. But they kept saying No, I need to pick it up myself and check it back in again. Such an ordeal. So I went to luggage claim. And guess what?”

“What? Your luggage was missing?”

“Yes! My luggage was missing! Can you believe it? I talked to the airline and they told me it was still in San Francisco. So I had to call San Francisco airport, and they told me they did not have my luggage, that it was on the airplane.”

“Daaaaaamn,” I murmured again.

“I know! I was so angry. So I called my brother and he checked it for me. They told him my luggage was on its way to Vietnam already. So I got on the plane and flew to Vietnam. And guess what?”

“You didn’t find your luggage.”

“Yes! I didn’t find my luggage!”

This guy’s story is either one huge exaggeration, or the poor fellah really does have horrible things happening to him all the time. Either way, the story was enticing. I listened with intense interest.

“I called my brother again,” he continued. “The airline told him my luggage was in Vietnam. But the airport in Vietnam said they did not have my luggage. I was on the phone all day, calling Shanghai, San Francisco, my brother… such an ordeal. Finally, someone told me to check the luggage counter. I did, and there was my luggage.”

He let out a long sigh and shook his head.

“Daaaaaamn.”

“Everything in my luggage was broken. The luggage itself was okay. Nothing was missing. But all of my stuff inside the luggage was broken. I had to buy all new things.”

“Daaaaaamn.” Well, at least you finally made it to Vietnam.”

“Yes. I finally did.” His face hinted at a momentary smile, then it vanished. “But there’s more.”

“More?”

“More.”

“Haven’t you had enough already?”

He laughed. “Yes, I have. These things always happen to me. My sister asks me why these things always happen to me. She doesn’t believe me that they always do, but they do.”

Another long sigh. Then he continued.

“While in Vietnam, sister made me a delicious dessert with coconut. She doesn’t know that I get sick with coconut, unfortunately. I ate it and started to feel sick. I didn’t know why. I asked her, ‘What is in this dessert?’ She said, ‘coconut.’ I ran to the bathroom and had such stomach pains. My goodness I was in such pain.”

I grimaced. He noticed the expression on my face and nodded.

“Yes. I had bad diarrhea. It was such pain. I even had to go to the hospital because I could not stand it. The doctor examined me and said there was nothing he could do. I just had to wait it out. But I kept telling him I was in a lot of pain, tremendous pain. He finally gave me some medicine, but it didn’t help. I just sat in the bathroom for a long, long time, in such pain.”

“Daaaaaamn,” I murmured.

He snipped my hair, looked at it in the mirror, and snipped again. I waited silently to hear more, but he just kept cutting my hair. After a moment, I asked, “How did the rest of the trip go?”

“Oh, it was okay. I saw my family, then flew home without any more problems. Getting there was such an ordeal. But coming home was great. I was so happy to come home.”

That was so not the answer I was expecting. A part of me almost hoped to hear more horrible ordeals. I dunno why. Something about watching a train wreck, that kind of thing.

“My mother,” he started up again. “She wants me to go back again this year. I told her No. I had such a horrible trip, I do not want to go back again so soon.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“Yes. Such an ordeal. Such an ordeal.”

Fortunately, he cut my hair without incident. No lost scissors or explosive diarrhea marred my haircut experience. But stories like that sure have a way of capturing one’s attention. Everybody loves a good, horrible ordeal, especially when it’s someone else’s.

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